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I have just pulled out a bag of old hiking gear to discover that the storage bin had a leak and floor had 2 inches of water. My sleeping bag, a Jungle Snugpack, had been partially submerged and has been wet/damp for a considerable period of time (6 months+)

I could not find any visible traces of mould but other items in the bag did have a small white covering.

I am going to throw it out but I wanted to understand what risks would remain if I boil wash the bag and attempted to use it again?

  • What's the filling? Down or synthetic? – user2766 Jun 8 '15 at 8:55
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    @Liam - Travelsoft synthetic insulation – Venture2099 Jun 8 '15 at 8:56
  • What kind of water was it? Clean, rainwater, sewage? – user2766 Jun 8 '15 at 9:14
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    @Liam - rainwater which had collected in an outside storage container like this shedstore.co.uk/storage/garden-storage/store-plus/… – Venture2099 Jun 8 '15 at 9:16
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Being as the bag is synthetic and the water was relatively clean your likely ok to boil wash it and use it again. If it had been down and/or contaminated water I'd strongly recommend binning it.

Down would have rotted and you couldn't guarantee getting rid of all of the nasties in contaminated water.

Caveat(s)

  • It's not going to be like brand new. The water itself likely hasn't done much damage (the filling will be a plastic type). The washing may damage it more. The boiling and drying will likely stress the material and cause damage.
  • There could be some nasty stuff in the mold which could cause respiratory issues. If you're sensitive to this kind of thing, don't take a chance, bin it. But a boil wash should kill most of the nasties off. If in doubt, don't take risks.
  • It may well smell even after you've washed it.

If you have access to a large tumble drier (laundrette kind of thing) then give it a really good dry after you've cleaned it. You want to dry the filling out as fast as possible to prevent the mold simply growing back.

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    You could also soak it in bleach before washing, that might help with any smell – Chris H Jun 8 '15 at 13:13
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    After hot-washing and drying put it in a plastic-bag and throw it in a deep-freeze (at least -15 Celsius) for a week. That will kill just about anything that survived the hot-washing. It is not unheard of for mold/nasties/creepy crawlies to survive either one (hot or cold) of the treatments, but surviving both is pretty rare. – Tonny Jun 8 '15 at 14:41
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    @Tonny a deep freeze will not kill mold and other nasties... but rather it will make them dormant. Once temps normalize again (after you take it out of the freezer), depending on the species of mold and other bacteria, they may re-activate and continue growing. – SnakeDoc Jun 8 '15 at 16:33
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    What you might want to consider is storing your sleeping bag differently. I was told when I bought my sleeping bag to take it out of its stuff sack and hang it over clothes hangers. That way, the stuffing is always compressed and dries easier. – Paradox Jun 8 '15 at 17:57
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    @Paradox yes, similar to how you see them displayed in stores. Leaving them in the sack will also cause them to smell "musty" when taken out. – SnakeDoc Jun 8 '15 at 18:56

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